GLOUCESTER captain Marco Bortolami has been named Italian player of 2006 by the coaches in the Italian Championship.
Bortolami, who has led Gloucester to second place in the Guinness Premiership following his summer move to Kingsholm, won the award from all the current players playing in Italy and abroad.
He was nominated thanks to his leadership qualities at both club and international level and for his outstanding contribution to the Italian team in the 2006 Six Nations.
Bortolami told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I would like to thank all the coaches who voted for me, I always work hard and it nice to see that people appreciate me.
"The Italian team and Gloucester Rugby are very important because they gave me the possibility to play very good rugby. It is a huge honour for me to be captain of my country and also Gloucester and I always give my utmost to both teams."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Marco certainly deserves this accolade - he would be an asset to any side in the Six Nations and has been instrumental for us this season."
Speaking with the local media before the Gloucester team set off on the long trip north to Newcastle, Director of Rugby David Humphreys discussed his team selection and stated that Friday night's meeting will be a challenging one.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, Matt Kvesic was looking forward to the trip to Newcastle Falcons, and the captain is looking to lead from the front with plenty for the Cherry and Whites to work on.
Gloucester saw a 12-0 lead overturned by Harlequins on Friday night as the visitors ran out 22-15 winners. After the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke about missed opportunities on the night.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, James Hudson explained his excitement for tonight's game with Harlequins and that he is backing the Cherry and White squad to impress during the next set of Aviva Premiership games.
Despite a dream start at Kingston Park, scoring a try after just 26 seconds, Gloucester couldn't capitalise against a dogged Newcastle Falcons side. Too many penalties were conceded and too many errors made as the Falcons prevailed 20-10.
There are three changes to Gloucester Rugby's starting line-up for Friday evening's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Newcastle Falcons. Steve McColl will make his first Premiership start for the club.